WESTLAKE, La. (KPLC) - Out with the old, in with the new for the Westlake Police Department as they moved into their new building this month.
According to Police Chief Chris Wilrye, the James 'Hawk’ Herford Emergency Response Center was 25 years in the making.
“Five Chiefs actually drew on these plans," Wilrye said. "It started with ‘Hawk’ Herford, who the building is named after, then it went to Stitch Guillory, then Jeremy Cryer, Mike Dickerson, then myself. It’s a long time coming, much needed upgrade that we have right now.”
The new building is on Guillory Street, across from Westlake High School, making them neighbors to the Westlake Fire Department.
“With the way the city is growing, everything is growing to the north, so this is more or less centrally located," Wilrye said. "Interstate would have been nice, but to meet the needs of the community this is the best area that we need to be.”
Wilrye credits Senator Ronnie Johns and Representative Stephen Dwight for helping with capitol outlay funds which were matched by the city. The new facility totaled a little more than 2 million dollars.
“The big ticket item we really spent money on was our dispatch area,” Wilrye said. “That’s our officers home for 12 hours. So they’re sitting there in this one location taking calls, dispatching officers to different locations so we want to make sure they are as comfortable as possible, but also stay within our budget means. We have air and heat that works, which is a big upgrade. At our old location, we kept having trouble with the A/C and heat, every year we had to get a company to come out, but now I think we are in a good spot and don’t have to worry about that.”
Wilrye says he was blown away when he got to tour the building for the first time.
“It’s breathtaking just to see how awesome this building is,” Wilrye said. “I’m still amazed. I never thought I would see this happen. The community stands behind us and for them to see the city putting the officers first, the officers’ safety first, and really focusing on this, it means a lot."
Wilrye says the old police department will now be used for storage.